The Mabel City Council discussed numerous topics during its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Parking signs

The council first heard from downtown business owner LeAnn Jevne who requested the city erect a parking sign outside her business to discourage drivers from parking outside her business (Mabel Flowers and Gifts) for long periods of time.

Jevne said this has recently become an issue outside her business. "If there is just some type of a sign there - so that if somebody did come into that (spot), then I would have a legal right," she stated.

Jevne specifically asked for a two-hour parking sign, but told the council that she would be flexible on the specifics of the sign.

The council discussed the request at length toward the end of the meeting.

"In all fairness, do we offer this (parking sign) to any business owner?" council member Laura St. Mary asked.

The question of the time limit on parking sign then led to discussion on other issues with parking in downtown Mabel - including winter parking and parking restrictions that may be favorable for other businesses on Main Street.

"It shouldn't be this big of deal for a sign," said council member Terry Torkelson, who spoke in favor of the sign in front of Jevne's business.

Council member Susan Amunrud later asked, "but should it be the city's expense to put this sign up?"

The council voted unanimously to table the topic to do further research and look into how current city ordinances could apply. The item will be a topic of discussion and action during the council meeting in December.

Zoning permit fees

The council also discussed current fees for zoning permits. City Clerk Karen Larson said the current fee for filing a zoning permit is $5, which covers only a small portion of the time and cost of initiating the permit. This includes time and effort spent by city personnel, letters to those within a 250-foot radius of the permit and the cost of posting the public hearing in the newspaper.

"Just something to think about," Larson told the council.

After hearing what Mabel charges for zoning permit fees compared to other surrounding communities, the council voted unanimously to raise the fee from $5 to $25 for the permit and charge $150 for the variance fee, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Funds transfer for grocery store coop

City Clerk Karen Larson reported the purchase of the former Cruisers building in downtown to make room for the proposed grocery store has left the Mabel EDA (Economic Development Authority) bank account with a negative balance.

"We need to transfer money to cover that...it is up to you where the money comes from, but typically it comes from the nursing home fund," Larson said.

The council unanimously approved the transfer of $15,213.50 in funds from the nursing home fund to the EDA fund to cover the purchase of the property.

The nursing home fund was created after the sale of Green Lea Manor to Tealwood Care Centers and is used to fund economic development projects in the city.

EMS building use

The council also discussed renovations and the use of the city's emergency services building.

Larson reported that after several months of Semcac's senior dining site being located at the American Legion during renovations, the dining site has returned to the EMS building in the past week.

"(Semcac was) quite upset - they did not like the legion, but now they can go back in and I wasn't quite ready for them," Larson said. "My question was I wanted to make sure the city wanted to continue to let them use the facility."

"We better (allow them to continue to use the facility), or we are going to have some people mad," said council member Susan Amunrud.

"I just said I would bring it up to the council and just wanted to make sure you guys wanted it to continue - to rent it out," said Larson.

Larson also added that the city does not charge Semcac to use the facility - but rather allows them to use it as a service. Proper cleaning and developing a checklist for cleaning the facility was also discussed.

Other business

The council also approved paperwork for a seven-year micro-loan for sewer work on Ash Street with an interest rate of 2.5 percent and was updated on the continuing improvements to Cherrywood Drive.

Warren Vicker spoke to the council regarding a disputed utility bill between him and the owner of the former D&D Smokehouse restaurant building. Vicker lived in an apartment above the restaurant until September when he moved out due to issues regarding cordon monoxide poisoning. The council denied the request to review the bill because it saw the issue as a dispute that needs to be resolved between Vicker and his former landlord.

The council approved a one-year contract for 2014 for CEDA's community development services. This contract includes the services of community development coordinator Sherry Hines and the resources of the CEDA corporation.